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View Diary: The Fantasy of "Government Tyranny" (211 comments)

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  •  See, I'm not sure that what you're describing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, JerryNA, Laconic Lib

    is an "example of government tyranny" in the first instance. [That's assuming that the phrase "government tyranny" has any meaning at all, and is something that one can find "examples" of.] What you're describing is the legislation and enforcement of one law that you personally don't like or don't agree with, but that without more is not "tyranny."

    It's only "tyranny" if it is arbitrary, e.g., if it's done by a governmental entity in which you have no representation and against which you have no lawful recourse, one that is unelected and unaccountable to itself, to the law or to its constituents. If the law that you don't like or don't agree with was lawfully passed by a duly-elected legislature with majority support, where you had the opportunity to vote for whomever would represent you in that debate, that's not tyranny. That's just you not liking or agreeing with that result.

    •  I have no lawful recourse (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rocksout, dewley notid

      to the federal government arresting me for my possession of medical marijuana.  Sure, the people in general have recourse, but I sure as hell don't.  And as for arbitrary, marijuana is a schedule one drug, which means that it is legally considered both to be highly addictive and to have no medical value, both of which are objectively untrue.  That's arbitrary.  Of course, there is a theoretical ability to eventually change the laws around marijuana, but tell the people who have already wasted years and years in jail about their legal recourse.  Not to mention the fact that it fall more on communities of color.  Case in point the discrepancy between crack and cocaine sentencing.

      But all of this is beside your point.  Either guns can help prevent tyranny or they can't.  If we have tyranny already then guns don't work.  If we don't have tyranny then guns still probably don't work.

      The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:57:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If your constitutional rights are being violated (8+ / 0-)

        you have the right to sue the federal government. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. You also have the right to vote for a legislature that will make the laws you want, and keep voting until you get your way. That is your lawful recourse. If your § 1983 claim is dismissed, or the rest of the country doesn't vote for the things you want, that is not tyranny. Neither is it arbitrary. Freedom is not autonomy, and living in a free country doesn't mean that there can't be any laws that you don't like or else you're a victim of "tyranny."

        •  Some people think being forced to ... (1+ / 0-)
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          register automobiles is tyranny.  I'm not sure how a lunatic with an assault rifle is going to do anything but try and enforce yet another tyranny.  I simply don't trust the "militias" or individuals who meet with their buddies on weekends to play soldier to be an improvement over elected government, no matter how corrupt.  Remember the French Revolution? The Bolsheviks?  Be careful what you wish for - the revolution may not turn out as you expect!  

          •  I fully agree there (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Desert Scientist

            And really, that's partially my point.  These people don't care about liberty and tyranny, they care about their ability to do whatever they want.  Because if they did care about liberty they'd bo doing something other than just hoarding guns.

            The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 09:13:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Bear in mind that (7+ / 0-)

        I agree marijuana should be legal. But the fact that it isn't (yet) does not indicate to me that we are living in a state of "tyranny." It simply indicates that the law needs to change, which it can, and ultimately will, and not because citizens have guns.

        •  A look at the size of our prison population (0+ / 0-)

          says otherwise to me.

          The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 09:11:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So the size of our prison population proves (0+ / 0-)

            that the United States of America is, at its core and in its entirety, an oppressive and brutal totalitarian state, and its 311+ million people are all living in a state of tyranny? The U.S. is the functional equivalent of the Third Reich, the Soviet Union, the Khmer Rouge, or any other historical dystopia? If not, then what exactly is it that you "believe otherwise"?

            Bear in mind that there is no federal penal code; there are some federal crimes and federal prisons, but general criminal statutes, prosecution and incarceration are almost exclusively a state matter. There are about 200,000 federal prisoners in the United States. That's about 0.6% of the population. By comparison, there are ten times as many people (over 2 million) in state prisons and local jails. In other words, it's the individual states and local municipalities, not the United States government, that have put over 90% of these people in prison.

            How does that affect the assessment? Are all 50 states brutal totalitarian regimes too? Or is the United States a brutal totalitarian regime because it allows the states to do this and refuses to set these people free?

            The fact that we have such a large prison population could mean any number of things. It could mean that we have a very high crime rate. It could mean that Americans are more prone to commit crimes than people in other countries, for any number of subsidiary reasons. It could mean that our criminal statutes are more restrictive than those in other countries, meaning more things are illegal here than elsewhere, or more crimes are classified as felonies here than elsewhere. It could mean that we mete out longer sentences for similar offenses. It could mean that our criminal justice system makes it too easy to prosecute and convict the accused. It could mean, alternatively, that our criminal justice system is so lenient, and makes it so difficult to prosecute and convict the accused, because it is so heavily weighted toward protecting their rights and puts the entire burden of proof on the state, that our people are less risk-averse when it comes to criminal behavior and more likely to think they can get away with it, avoid arrest, avoid prosecution, or "get off on a technicality."

            I'm not saying any of these are true or that any of these are the sole reason. All I'm saying is that the fact of a large prison population, by itself and without more, is not proof of the existence of a state of "tyranny" analogous to that of the Nazis, the Soviets, or anyone else. It's too easy to just chalk it up to "tyranny" and thereby avoid asking the more important questions, viz., why is it so, and what do we do about it?

            We have a criminal justice system which is, like all others, less than perfect. But we do have a criminal justice system. We also have a representative democracy that provides us with the opportunity, through the law and the political process, to change that system for the better, and with lawful recourse against it should it fail to live up to our nation's ideals of liberty and justice. And all that without any need for an armed citizenry.

            •  There are no states where (0+ / 0-)

              everyone lives under tyranny, and to hold to that standard means that even Nazi Germany wasn't tyranny.  It isn't an either/or situation, it's degrees.  Certainly, there are instances of pretty horrible systems, but even in those systems there are plenty of people who have it pretty damn good.

              And the fact that states are doing it doesn't make a whit of difference.  That's part of how a federal system works.  But we have a system that systematically oppresses a huge chunk of our population:  That's what tyranny is.

              The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 11:29:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What is your definition of (0+ / 0-)

                "systematic oppression"?

                What is the objective organizing principle that distinguishes "oppression" from law?

                What is the objective organizing principle that distinguishes "oppression" that is "systematic" from that which is not systematic, or is merely anecdotal?

                What is the objective organizing principle that distinguishes "systematic oppression" from the mere existence of a criminal justice system?

                [I mean these questions to be neither ironic nor rhetorical. I am actually very interested in your answers. Thanks.]

              •  One more thing: (0+ / 0-)

                Which specific segment of the population is being "systematically oppressed"? What objective characteristics distinguish those who are being "systematically oppressed" from those who are not? Roughly what percentage of the U.S. population is in the former category?

                Thanks again.

    •  That idea breaks down when you have 310 Million (4+ / 0-)

      people represented by 450 men who have to get on the phone and beg for money from 400 billionaires every day.

      Or do you think the $3 BILLION spent in the election just past was spent to ensure good government for the little people?

      How many people did a Congressman represent in 1790?  How many today?

      •  Money is the problem. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        artmartin, JerryNA

        Are guns the solution?

        •  Well, some people argue for high explosives (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stormicats, dewley notid, JerryNA

          As I noted below, there are MANY ways to protect the Constitution and our freedom.   But the people clinging to their guns are arguing nothing more than what part of the Left was arguing in the 1960s.   In both cases because they have lost faith in the government.

          When the government ended the Vietnam war, enacted civil rights for blacks and halted the abuses (domestic spying, etc) of the FBI and the Army,  the violent left quickly dried up and disappeared.  

          I think the question  of government overreach should be publicly discussed and it should be pointed out that there are many controls that are more effective --and active --than the NRA.  I also think a number of reforms that I suggested below would give reassurance to some of the opposition.  I think it should be pointed out that the NRA did nothing to oppose Cheney.   I think the massive unemployment problem should be fixed quickly.

          Democrats have really fallen down on the job when it comes to pointing out how government can be a force for good -- whereas the billionaires so favored by the Libertarians have amply shown that they feel no obligation for their fellow countrymen.  

          If you want people to trust government then you need to have the government make noticable improvements in people's lives when you are in power.

        •  The man who started the whole Assault Rifle craze (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GDbot, Laconic Lib

          was a Stanford English  major and banker named Mel Tappan.  Back during the high inflation of the Jimmy Carter administration.  Mel Argued that the economy was going to collapse from high federal debt and entitlement obligations (Social Security, Medicare,etc.)   Argued that a person should move to a small town 400 miles from any large city and set up a self-sufficent farm to survive the ensuing chaos.

          This was during a period of much higher homicide rates in our cities.   Plus large areas of several cities  had been burned down during the civil rights riots/Martin Luther King assassination.   Plus there was that nuclear war/Cuban Missile Crisis/fallout shelter craze.

          Which, of course, led to the need for guns.   Lots of guns. To deal with the hordes of starving urban cannibal hordes
          fleeing to the countryside.
          Plus a year's supply of beans, bullets, bandaids and goats.
          Even among the hippies who fled to the same patch of Oregon to escape the Impending Nixon Dictatorship.

          Read "Tappan on Survival".  Wild craziness.  Opens with a quote from Yeats' "Second Coming":

           "Turning and turning in the widening gyre
              The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
              Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
              Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
              The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
              The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
              The best lack all conviction, while the worst
              Are full of passionate intensity."

          •  A friend's father bought into that, hook, line, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radarlady, artmartin, JerryNA

            ... and sinker.

            One of the things he did, as a result, was to bury a number of 50 gallon drums of gasoline in the yard. This almost caused a problem a few years ago. He had a stroke that left him bed-ridden and requiring positive air pressure for breathing. His wife decided to have a first-floor addition put on the house for his bedroom, with direct outside access to make it easier on the varying visiting caregivers - the creaky old, narrow stairs to the 2nd floor weren't kind to anyone.

            Alas, he hadn't told anyone about the gasoline, and was unable to speak due to the stroke, which led to a very scary day (though, luckily, an uneventful one) for the backhoe operator who discovered them.

        •  Guns are way more of a problem than a solution. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

          by rocksout on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 08:06:43 AM PST

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      •  Now it's about 460K/district; in the past... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In 1900 population was 76M and number of districts was 357, so a bit over 210K/district.  In 1789 US population was 3.6M and 59 seats in the House, or about 60K/seat.

        Data from


        Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

        by triplepoint on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 05:26:41 AM PST

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      •  This is a problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that needs to be addressed.  Off the top of my head,  in 1790, Congressmen had to represent around 25,ooo citizens, now it's much closer to a million.  How can they, as a practical matter, have adequate knowledge of their electorate to properly represent them?  

        We can have democracy in this country, or we can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. Louis Brandeis

        by Ohkwai on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 08:24:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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